Monday, 29 July 2019

Vienna 1934 – Munich 1938 : Vanessa Redgrave at the Ustinov

I was intrigued when I saw that Vanessa Redgrave would  be appearing at the Ustinov Studio in Bath, in her own production, Vienna 1934 – Munich 1938

I wasn't sure what to expect, What we got, was a bit of a mixed bag - the production is based on period 1934-38, and some of issues around  the rise of the Nazis and  Socialist resisters in Vienna.  It includes encounters with Stephen Spender , Muriel Gardiner, and of course Michael and Corin Redgrave..

The story is narrated by Redgrave, in a very conversational way, which includes her passing her late uncle's journal (kept by him, per regulations, when he was  a Midshipman, in the 1930s)  to the front rows of the audience to look through during the first act. 

In between, the small cast - Robert Boulter , Paul Hilton and Lucy Doyle, are all very good, and all perform several roles, often narrating their character's thoughts rather than interacting with one another, as the action moves from Austria to England, and finishes with a long and impassioned extract from Thomas Mann's speech attacking appeasement.

I was left somewhat disappointed as there was such as strong cast, and fascinating material, but it never quite came together in a coherent narrative - it's more a series of anecdotes and history.

It is interesting, and the performers,  and in particular Redgrave herself, are good enough that the content grips you, but I felt that it could perhaps have done with  more input from an editor or director, to help bring the disparate threads together more.

I am not sure if it is touring, but if it is, it is definitely worth seeing (it would be worth seeing for Vanessa Redgrave alone)